The government announced on 21 Dec. that British Sign Language (BSL) will be taught as a GCSE from September 2025, marking a milestone moment for the deaf community after years of campaigning. The qualification will include around 1,000 signs and be open to all pupils, according to the BBC, and is a move that follows BSL becoming an official language in England, Scotland, and Wales last year.
And the news is being celebrated up and down the country, with "Love Island"'s first deaf Islander, Tasha Ghouri, praising the "step in the right direction." Ghouri raised awareness of the deaf community when she appeared on the 2022 summer series, with her cochlear ear plant hailed as her "superpower". Despite receiving a disappointing amount of ableist abuse while on the reality TV show, she came fourth with boyfriend Andrew Le Page, and has since gone on to start a podcast, "Superpowers With Tasha", focused on empowering people through their differences.
"It's so important to have inclusivity in schools. Accessibility is something I massively stand for and It's amazing that BSL is now becoming a GCSE course," Ghouri tells POPSUGAR. "It's incredible that students will now have the opportunity to learn the foundations of BSL, the history, how it was formed and it's such a beautiful language to learn."
There are currently around 12 million people living with hearing loss in the UK, according to Hear4U, while it is estimated that just over 150,000 use BSL as their preferred language, including both deaf and hearing people who may have learnt it, per Sign Solutions. Introducing a GCSE in BSL will only help to open up the world for more people to communicate and connect.
"What a day," Ghouri added on her Instagram. "It's amazing now students have the opportunity to learn BSL, something I really wish I had when I was at school. I really advise to take this course - one day in your life you will need it."
In 2021, there was a surge in people interested in learning BSL after Rose Ayling-Ellis won "Strictly Come Dancing" and wowed the nation with that silent dancing moment. The British Sign Language Courses website told ITV News they had seen a 2,488 percent increase in signups shortly after the show aired. And earlier this year, dating app Tinder teamed up with deaf twin sisters, Hermon and Heroda, to create a visual series teaching users how to flirt in BSL. But there was still a stigma around the deaf community, leaving many behind. Thankfully, due to tireless campaigning from charities, families, and students including 17-year-old, Daniel Jillings, who has campaigned for the qualification since the age of 12, communication will only continue to grow as we move towards a more inclusive society. Now that's the good news we needed as we head into the Christmas break, right?